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Is DRM Intrinsically Distasteful? 631

Posted by Zonk
from the tastes-like-chicken dept.
jelton writes "If digital media was available for sale at a reasonable price, but subject to a DRM scheme that allowed full legitimate usage (format shifting, time shifting, playback on different devices, etc.) and only blocked illicit usage (illegal copying), would you support the usage of such a DRM scheme? Especially if it meant a wealth of readily available compatible devices? In other words, if you object to DRM schemes, is your objection based on principled or practical concerns?"
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Is DRM Intrinsically Distasteful?

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  • Both. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fyngyrz (762201) * on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:02PM (#17579370) Homepage Journal

    Sure, I support the ability to use DRM. That should be the artist's choice. But not a blanket enforcement of it. Why? Because there are some people who make audio productions who do not charge and do not restrict distribution. As long as that is still possible, and those people don't have to pay some arbitrary group for a "license" or other enabling mechanism to distribute their "stuff" for free, I'd be all for it.

    But... our history is that once we close the doors, we lock people out based upon income or other arbitrary factors that really have no bearing on the subject at hand, except perhaps as prejudice or a money-making scheme. Radio station licenses are a racket. Product bar codes are a racket. Liquor licenses are a racket. Marriage licenses are a racket. The whole "top-40" thing is a racket. The list is long and depressing. My expectation is that if a DRM scheme is settled upon, the only model supported will be commercial and involve money and/or equipment that the little guy just won't be able to afford. Cynical? You bet. But based on past performance.

    We've seen this begin to happen already. Vista will degrade audio that is "unsigned", meaning, created or put in place by software that hasn't got some kind of deal going with Microsoft. This is bad on every level — models like this only hurt the little person.

    We're better off without DRM, I'm afraid, because the proponents of it are uniformly commercial, as are their goals... but the world is not.

    • Re:Both. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Abcd1234 (188840) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:09PM (#17579560) Homepage
      Sure, I support the ability to use DRM.

      See, and I don't. Why? Well, first off, DRM allows for what amounts to unbound copyrights. After all, if I can't read, copy, edit, or redistribute a public-domain work, what use is it to me? Copyright is supposed to be a *bounded* contract between the copyright holder and society. DRM is just an attempt at an end-run around the rules.

      Secondly, I demand my right to shift materials that I've rightfully purchased onto other media. For example, I have a MythTV installation. On it, I have my entire music collection, not to mention a mass of recorded video, and eventually I plan to have my DVD collection ripped as well. DRM means I can no longer do any of these things, which restricts my ability to enjoy the content I've purchased.

      So no, I don't believe in DRM. Do I believe that artists should be compensated for their work? Absolutely. They put in significant effort creating the media I enjoy. But I don't like being treated like a criminal in my own home, and I don't like the artists wiggling out of their part of the copyright bargain.
      • Re:Both. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by PFI_Optix (936301) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:12PM (#17579672) Journal
        first off, DRM allows for what amounts to unbound copyrights.

        This is a failure of current DRM schemes, not DRM in general. It would be easy enough to design DRM so that the DRM no longer applies after a certain date.

        first off, DRM allows for what amounts to unbound copyrights.

        Again, this could be done with DRM, though it would require a much more robust and flexible system than will exist any time soon.
        • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:16PM (#17579762)
          This is a failure of current DRM schemes, not DRM in general. It would be easy enough to design DRM so that the DRM no longer applies after a certain date.

          Which would require the date to be locked on the machines so I cannot defeat it by simply moving the date ahead 100 years.
          • by ewhac (5844) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:32PM (#17580140) Homepage Journal
            Which would require the date to be locked on the machines so I cannot defeat it by simply moving the date ahead 100 years.

            Um, that's exactly what they're doing.

            It's called, in that lovely NewSpeak way, a "secure clock," and it runs independently of the time-of-day clock that you're allowed to set. The "secure clock" is updated only by (more NewSpeak) "trusted" system components, and is used by defective (nee "protected") media to enforce expiration dates.

            You really don't want to look deeper into this Sausage Factory -- it's revolting on more levels than you can possibly imagine.

            Schwab

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by HTH NE1 (675604)

            This is a failure of current DRM schemes, not DRM in general. It would be easy enough to design DRM so that the DRM no longer applies after a certain date.

            Which would require the date to be locked on the machines so I cannot defeat it by simply moving the date ahead 100 years.

            No, because it would also have to be tied to an on-line service to monitor the state of the latest extensions to copyright law as well as the obituary pages.

            Consider that even if an artist was the last of his bloodline, owned all his

            • by Venner (59051) on Friday January 12, 2007 @05:23PM (#17581174)
              >>Consider that even if an artist was the last of his bloodline, owned all his copyrights, and did not will those rights to anyone, you still couldn't copy any of his works for however long Disney decided they should be extended.

              IANAL, but I think that'd be untrue under a couple of legal theories at least:

              First, if she had no heirs at all (including parents, siblings, cousins, etc.) then her property would escheat to the State. The practical effect of which (I believe - I haven't researched it) would be to put the work in the public domain. I have no idea if anyone has done any work with this area, but it'd be fun thing to try...

              Next, if the copyright is in limbo and no one seems to have any rights to it, it would probably be considered an Orphaned Work. There have been Bills recently in Congress to clarify and codify the status of such works, but none have passed yet (that I know of.) The Copyright Office was soliciting advice from the public on what should be done last year. ( http://www.copyright.gov/fedreg/2005/70fr3739.html [copyright.gov] ). I personally opined that they should go into the public domain, possibly with a grace period to allow for a lost author to suddenly show up before it becomes public property*.

              *I admit my anti-copyright bias, but I don't think this is unfair. If you want your work to be protected, you should have to put a notice of copyright within the work, as under the old system. And you should have up to a year or so to decide you want to do that (to prevent people copying your expression.) Beyond that, it's public - period.
        • Re:Both. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by BillyBlaze (746775) <tomfelker@gmail.com> on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:40PM (#17580312)

          It is actually a practical impossibility to design such a DRM scheme. If I were to give you a 5 1/2" floppy right now, could you extract the data? Probably half of us could not, even if allowed hours to root through our attic for dusty old equipment. But with floppies, we have the advantage of knowing the format, and we're not at the mercy of some long-defunct website to give us decryption keys.

          Copyright protection currently lasts so long that if content were to survive until it enters the public domain, it would need to be format-shifted ten or fifteen times. But the whole point of DRM is to preclude format-shifting, since that's indistinguishable from illegal copying. Tell you what: in 70+(life of author)+(RIAA campaign donations/$100M) years, if you can successfully and legally give me a copy of some 2007-vintage DRM-encumbered music, I'll eat my hat.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by maddogsparky (202296)
          "In other words, if you object to DRM schemes, is your objection based on principled or practical concerns?"

          This reminds me of the hacking/cracking debate in my ethics class. On one side, there isn't anything inherently wrong with a person hacking into a computer to look around, as long as they don't cause any harm within the computer or use the knowledge to cause harm in the real world (e.g. using secret information to buy stock may change the stock price and hurt a buyer or seller who doesn't have that i
          • End of discussion (Score:5, Insightful)

            by wakejagr (781977) on Friday January 12, 2007 @06:13PM (#17582012) Journal

            Parent is not quite correct. I agree that "Principled" DRM is completely and utterly impossible, but that doesn't make the question moot, it makes the question simple to answer, because it makes the answer "I object based on principle". If DRM is inherently unprincipled, I object to DRM because it does not meet my principles.

            Here's how I see the arguement. I object to DRM because its very nature goes against my principles. Unless I'm being sued or charged with a crime, for anyone to seize control (electronic or otherwise) over my media player of choice is intrinsically an invasion of my privacy. In order to secure a media player so that it will play digitally encrypted files without me being able to remove the encryption, some form of electronic control must be seized. So, I object to DRM that works (keeps me from unencrypting the files) because it doesn't meet my principles concerning privacy rights. I object to DRM that doesn't work (lets me unencrypt the files) because it doesn't meet my principles concerning stupidity.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by croddy (659025)

          It would be easy enough to design DRM so that the DRM no longer applies after a certain date.

          This is an assertion made frequently by those who don't object to DRM en toto, and it is founded on an assumption that the content that has been restricted can eventually be liberated using the software tools that were initially published to control access to it.

          From a preservation standpoint, the encryption of content for mass distribution is always an unsavory outcome. What we should have learned from the silent

      • by Thansal (999464)
        This is a hypothetical situation.

        This mythical DRM we are talking about would do none of those things.

        Once a work is public domain the DRM would obviously stop restricting "illegal copies" as there would no longer BE any illegal copies (all are now legal).

        Also, this DRM lets you media/time shift, after all, there is nothing illegal about those.

        So, would you still object?
        • Re:Both. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Abcd1234 (188840) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:23PM (#17579916) Homepage
          So, would you still object?

          If the system gave me full freedom to do what I wanted with the media (including play it back on systems I've built, such as my MythTV box), with the exception of distributing illegal copies, and the protection expired after the copyright ran out, I would have no problems with it.

          Problem is, such a system is most probably impossible to build. Without full control of the hardware from soup to nuts, there's no way to plug the analog hole, and without that, there's always a way to distribute the material (unless you can come up with a watermarking scheme that's unbreakable). This is, of course, why HDCP was invented...
        • Re:Both. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Artifakt (700173) on Friday January 12, 2007 @05:26PM (#17581226)
          This is a hypothetical situation.

          This mythical DRM we are talking about would do none of those things.


          This becomes an arguement like "Can God make a rock so heavy He can't lift it."
          There appear to be huge logical paradoxes in the idea that DRM that doesn't have the negative consequences real DRM has can exist. The whole question is equivalent to "Would you still oppose the death penalty if we could revive the criminal in the case of mistakes?". That's fundamentally not what the word Death means. Your mythical DRM is like a four sided triangle or simmilarly impossible concept.

          Now DRM is fundamentally a legal issue. The original poster doubtless didn't mean to, but has just abused people, in the exact same way as putting someone on the witness stand and asking "Have you stopped beating your wife yet? please answer with a simple yes or no." is abusive. Your followthrough on this point is also personal abuse of the parent poster. Who the hell do you think you are that you have some special right to expect a logically defensable answer to a nonsensical question? I'm sure that, whatever the parent answered, you would be glad to pick logical holes in it, but you, not the parent poster, are the one putting those holes into the logical arguement. My answer to your question is, "I do not answer illogical questions from crazy-talking people who obviously want to pick a fight, and you are being a bully". (and yes, you are).

                  So, would you burn down an orphanage filled with cute toddlers if things were different enough that that wasn't a bad thing? Please answer quickly, so I can quote back just the part that lets me win an arguement with you and make you look bad.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Marillion (33728)

        I think you missed the nuance of the original question. If a DRM system can be created that can magically recognise the moment your use of digital content goes from legal to illegal, would you still object to DRM.

        Most of us hate DRM because no one has come up with that utopian DRM system.

    • by garcia (6573)
      Sure, I support the ability to use DRM. That should be the artist's choice.

      Exactly. Microsoft should not be putting this shit into their OS. It's the *artist's* responsibility to protect his work. It's not up to the OS to do it for him. If they artist chooses a method that doesn't work well with whatever is out there, that's his fault for trying to eliminate fair use.

      Let the free market decide how to deal with copyright. It's already been shown that we don't want it.
      • by PFI_Optix (936301)
        I'm sorry, I must have missed the part where a Microsoft OS wouldn't play DRM-free music.

        As I understand it, MS included DRM support in Vista but doesn't force the use of it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by avalys (221114)
        Let the free market decide how to deal with copyright. It's already been shown that we don't want it.

        LOL. That's exactly what's happening, except you're only one half of the free market, buddy. The people selling the music have made the opposite decision.

  • Fair Use Backups? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SnowDeath (157414) <{peteguhl} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:03PM (#17579410) Homepage
    Would this protection from "illegal copying" also prevent me from legal copying? Aka backups that are protected by fair use? If so, then I would be against it in practice and principle.
    • by ILikeRed (141848) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:10PM (#17579608) Journal
      Exactly, what is the difference between the copy of a CD or DVD for my car, and the one I make to give or sell to a friend?

      The answer is: Actions that can not be monitored from the computer, and sorry, but I refuse to get a **AA monitoring camera embedded into my forehead.
    • What if you didn't need backups? The music you own is attached to you. You can go download again at anytime.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SnowDeath (157414)
        What happens when the company that sold me this unbackable music goes belly up and I can no longer download it from then?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Harinezumi (603874)
        Whether or not I need them is entirely irrelevant. I have a right to make them, and I take issue with any technology or legislation that takes away any of my existing rights, even ones which I choose not to exercise.
  • by e4g4 (533831) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:05PM (#17579438)
    It seems to me that this is a pipe dream without a fully regulated hardware path (which I find inherently distasteful). Generally speaking, computers aren't smart enough to determine legality without something like Trusted Computing, therefore, unless a brilliant DRM breakthrough is made, yeah, I find DRM inherently distasteful.
    • by ivan256 (17499)
      Even a fully regulated hardware path doesn't solve the problem. Sure, it'll help if you're talking about 'unauthorized' use instead of 'illegal' use, but legal use is indistinguishable from many types of illegal use, and you have the legal right to do some things with content regardless of whether the publisher has authorized you to do it or not.
    • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:14PM (#17579700)
      It seems to me that this is a pipe dream without a fully regulated hardware path

      This is a pipe dream even with a fully regulated hardware path, because in a lot of cases the only difference between an infringing use and a non-infringing one is the human's intent.

      • by e4g4 (533831)
        Indeed, I can see it know...MS PlaysForSure 2012, now with ReadsMindsForSure...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by danpsmith (922127)

        This is a pipe dream even with a fully regulated hardware path, because in a lot of cases the only difference between an infringing use and a non-infringing one is the human's intent.

        Not only this, but it doesn't take into account the fact that pirates are often not even going through DRMed channels to obtain their material. While I'm sure some on the scene do crack DRM to upload to the Internet, some of the material isn't even out of the theater yet, which shows that they are obviously _not_ getting the

  • by Omnifarious (11933) * <eric-slashNO@SPAMomnifarious.org> on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:05PM (#17579448) Homepage Journal

    Copyright is supposed to be imperfect and leaky. I do not want a scheme for perfectly enforcing it via architecture.

    This goes for most laws. The difficulty of enforcing laws is what keeps a lot of laws from being horribly onerous burdens rather than simply being annoying inconveniences. I'm against any scheme for perfectly enforcing laws. Laws should always be tempered by human understanding.

    I think Godels incompleteness theorem applies here. Laws are like a system of axioms. You cannot make a system of axioms that can in all cases separate behavior you want from behavior you don't. So making that system of axioms be enforced by the architecture is inevitably going to prevent behaviors that you don't want to prevent.

    • by Hatta (162192)
      Exactly, DRM is intrinsically distasteful because copyright is intrinsically distasteful. The idea that the simple act of copying a number could be illegal violates any precept of common sense and propriety.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Thansal (999464)
      Mkay, I am going to step away from the group think here and say I don't get it. If you odn't feel like reading my full post skip to the last line.

      How and WHY is Copyright SUPPOSED to be imperfect and leaky? I thought the point of copyright was to give the creator of a work the sole right to create copies of it (and thus decide who can have a copy, and under what terms). There are a few purposfuly drilled holes in it (naimly Fairuse), but those are defined under the law (admitedly fairuse is incredibly gr
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Speare (84249)

        How and WHY is Copyright SUPPOSED to be imperfect and leaky?

        First, the why: US Copyright Law was heavily architected and influenced by a couple notable figures. The first librarian and an influential publisher of (pirated) books, Benjamin Franklin. The exemplar of libertarian "smallest government intrusion possible" politics, Thomas Jefferson. They both felt that it was the government's responsibility to encourage the sharing of inventions and expressions, not discourage it, but recognized that the

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hackstraw (262471) *
      Copyright is supposed to be imperfect and leaky. I do not want a scheme for perfectly enforcing it via architecture.

      This goes for most laws. The difficulty of enforcing laws is what keeps a lot of laws from being horribly onerous burdens rather than simply being annoying inconveniences. I'm against any scheme for perfectly enforcing laws. Laws should always be tempered by human understanding.


      Well said, and true, but this is the POV from a free thinking intelligent individual. This is not a shared opinion f
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zippthorne (748122)
      Arbitrary enforcement of laws is itself unjust, when combined with unjust laws is intolerable. Unjust laws should be stricken, not unfairly enforced. It is the inefficiency of enforcement which undermines clamor for their repeal.
  • a fantastic analogy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:05PM (#17579462)
    If 1 in 100 people does something bad with a gun, we all still get guns. If 1 in 100 people (probably less actually) illegaly copies and uploads or sells a movie or song, we all get super restrictive DRM. Apparently greed is more important than safety.
    • That is a horrible analogy.

      If 1 in a 100 people were doing something bad with a gun you can bet your ass we would have martial law declared.

      Almost everybody I know has copied something illegally at some point in their lives.
    • by ScentCone (795499) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:35PM (#17580214)
      If 1 in 100 people does something bad with a gun, we all still get guns. If 1 in 100 people (probably less actually) illegaly copies and uploads or sells a movie or song, we all get super restrictive DRM. Apparently greed is more important than safety.

      Oh, please. In the US, there are untold millions of firearms in private posession. Only a miniscule fraction of those are every use to do "something bad," and most of those are used by someone who stole it or has it illegally. As a ratio, many more people do "something bad" in their disregard for the copyrights of the artists that they claim to respect. We have untold millions of people who've ripped off their entertainment - and that's a significantly different scenario. Incidentally: if you "do something bad" with a gun, it's likely off to jail with you. If you do it frequently or badly enough, it's a lifetime there, or the end of your life. You certainly don't get to go legally owning another one once you've done your felony time.

      Not really a good analogy, and not at all fantastic. The firearms industry is one of the most heavily regulated in the country. Manufacturers, dealers, repair shops, owners, shippers, airlines - they all have a myriad of laws, regs, and practices they must follow to stay legal. I'm guessing that's not part of you world, or you'd know that.
  • Worthless question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:06PM (#17579472) Homepage Journal
    That is a worthless mental exercise as there is no way that DRM can be there and it not be 'in the way'.

    By definition DRM would cause issues with legit useage.

    DRM is wrong, in any form.
  • I think the definition of that term needs to be explored more.

    Can I sell it?
  • To me, there is nothing wrong with wanting to protect your stuff (movies/videogame/music/whatever).

    If you could some how make a DRM scheme that did not inhibit ANY legal use of the media then I am all for it. Then again in a perfect world people would not steal from other people and there would be no need for DRM.

    The only problem then is: What is the deffinition of legal use? (this is ignoring the fact that I don't think this type of DRM would be possible with out including something that is equaly intrusi
  • by TheWoozle (984500) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:08PM (#17579524)
    So, basically, you're saying that if God were DRM, would we be philosophically opposed to it?

    Seeing as how this is Slashdot, I think I know the answer to that one.

    And in any case, if DRM were God, if it was working right, we wouldn't even know it was working at all. ;-)
  • To me, no, DRM is not, in pure concept bad. But in any resonable execution given modern tech and technological interfaces, it has no choice but to be bad.

    Were a DRM soltuion introduced that ONLY prevented unlawful distribution, but allowed other legitimate uses (such as format/time shifting, playing on any device that stored that could play that classification of media, etc.), without having to give all kinds of personal data to the reps, or carry around large quantities/weights/volumes of DRM gagetry with
  • No. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:08PM (#17579540) Journal
    Why should consumers be forced to waste resources that they paid for?

    Seriously - while most users never come near the limits of what their computer can do, I have spent a ton of time waiting for 3d renders to finish thanks to a maxed-out CPU. Since any real enforceable DRM requires a bit of 'assistance' from hardware, that's just that many more CPU cycles (or GPU cycles, or ...? depending) wasted on DRM that I could be putting to good use.

    I buy computers on a price/performance measure - how much performance per dollar can I get is my metric. Why should I be forced to accept a lowered ratio because someone else decided that I (or any given user) could, in their eyes, potentially be a dirty little copyright pirate?

    /P

  • a DRM scheme that allowed full legitimate usage (format shifting, time shifting, playback on different devices, etc.) and only blocked illicit usage (illegal copying)

    If there were such a thing, maybe so. But I'd also support a medicine that cured every disease known to man without any side effects. Let me know when you come up with that, okay?

    Also, while DRM itself is not necessarily distasteful, the enforcement of IP law, in its current form, really is. The penalties for breaking this ideal DRM scheme
  • by Renegade Lisp (315687) * on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:08PM (#17579546)

    I can't help it, but the way this question is asked, it sounds very "official" to me. As if somebody in a big media corporation or record label wanted to find out what the masses think, or some such... But nevertheless, here's my two cents:

    I don't think there can be any such thing as "illegal copying". Copying is a fundamental operation of any computer, and the internet means we can copy world-wide, instantly, at zero cost. Any mechanism that tries to make this impossible is trying to set the clock back to before the internet age. As many DRM-opponents have pointed out, trying to control copying in such a world amounts to establishing a police-state, no less.

    The consequence is that artists, and distributors (in whichever form we may still need them), need to be paid by other means, NOT by the number of copies they distribute, NOT bound to the act of copying.

    One idea is voluntary payment (think Magnatune). Another idea is that musicians, in particular, can shift to other means of generating income, e.g. concerts, public performances.

    The economy is going to change. It has to, because copying can no longer be controlled. Altogether, this is a good thing, but it can turn into a very bad thing if people try very badly to keep this from happening.

  • I agree with the previous poster that its use or disuse should be up to the artist. That said, I personally refuse to BUY anything which is DRM'd.

    I believe DRM is fine for rental systems or subscription music where you lose your rights to the music when you stop paying the subscription.

    But if I BUY something, I expect it to become mine. DRM as a concept prohibits this- I do not have control over what I buy so it is not mine. I don't mind watermarking or somehow identifying my copy uniquely as long as it
  • Stupid question. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MustardMan (52102) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:10PM (#17579586)
    I hate these impossible hypothetical questions. Technical solutions to social issues are inherently flawed. The problem with DRM isn't the technology - it's the corrupt legislation like the DMCA, which makes it illegal to circumvent the DRM. It's utterly impossible for technology to know the difference between legal and illegal, unless you change the laws to define what's illegal based on the technology.

    It's like that stupid discussion that was going around the internet about a plane on a treadmill - at the very core it's a flawed question, and just encourages idiotic discussion about meaningless "what if"s
  • DRM, in whatever form, is intrinsically self-contradictory; remember the analogy with handing someone both the lock and the key and then expecting them to only use what they've been given in the approved manner. I therefore would (and do) object to it on the grounds that it is a bloody boneheaded thing to spend efforts and money on. We've got enough stupidity in the world as it is.

    That's provided, of course, that we are not talking about hardware-based DRM, but the question seems to exclude that.
  • by rudy_wayne (414635) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:10PM (#17579602)
    there is no way that DRM can be there and not be 'in the way'
    Exactly right. There no way that DRM can magically determine the difference between "legal" and "illegal" copying.

  • I really don't see how anyone could object to DRM if it only prevented illegal copying.

    Of course, I can't imagine a way to make it work that wouldn't be so intrusive that I wouldn't use it.
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:10PM (#17579616) Journal
    Is DRM Intrinsically Distasteful?
    Would a monitor and speed regulator on your car be Intrinsically Distasteful?
    Would a monitor that reports your TV viewing habits to the govt. be Intrinsically Distasteful?
    Would a monitor that only allows you to buy certain foods be Intrinsically Distasteful?
    Would a police force that inspects your home every day to ensure that you are not harboring criminals be Intrinsically Distasteful?
    Would a monitor that ensures you don't cook microwave food on the bbq be Intrinsically Distasteful?
    This list can go on for a long time...

    Yes, it IS Intrinsically Distasteful?
  • by Richard_J_N (631241) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:11PM (#17579624)
    Unfortunately, DRM that allows for fair use and for copyright expiration isn't even theoretically possible. Also, even if the DRM rules permitted every reasonable use they could think of, some future development in technology would be sure to clash with it.
  • At the end of the day, if you can hear it, you can record it, and if you can see it, you can videotape it. It might not be a "perfect digital copy", but neither is a lossy format like OGG or MP3.

    Besides, the lack of quality doesn't seem to bother people downloading torrents of a movie some clown recorded with a camcorder, complete with audience noise.

    DRM is a waste of resources that only annoys the legal users of the media.

    The real pirates will find work around. Hardware DRM? Yeah, right, because no o
  • by MyHair (589485) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:11PM (#17579636) Journal
    This question is analagous to "if frogs had wings, would they still bump their butts on the ground?"

    Intellectual property is an intangible construct. I don't see much point in discussing "if if if...." Ultimately there is no utopian DRM implementable. Heck, humans can't agree on value judgements...how can an algorithm do better?
  • "If digital media was available for sale at a reasonable price, "


    If good quality content is available at a fair price, people will buy it and there is no need for DRM.

  • Assuming that I could copy, watch, manipulate, change formats, watch on different media players or do whatever I wanted to with (it is mine, after all!) except for distribute illegally. Of course I would support it!

    Of course, this is a pipe dream. Even if all players took a thumb-print to make sure I was the true owner, but allowed me to do all the stuff listed above, I would still need to buy multiple copies of whatever so that my wife and kids could enjoy it without me there to swipe my thumb!
  • ...a DRM scheme that allowed full legitimate usage (format shifting, time shifting, playback on different devices, etc.) and only blocked illicit usage (illegal copying)

    This DRM scheme already exists, and is fairly easy to implement. It happens to be called the "honor system" [wikipedia.org].

    The honor system is very inexpensive to use, and requires virtually zero disk space. It is multi-platform and very easy to extend.

    Unfortunately, the "honor system" tends to be extremely easy to circumvent. The weakness with the "hon

  • How can you know all the future practical uses?
    Also, how can a computer tell the difference between legal and illegal copying? Will the computer know that I have 15 different music playing devices in my house and that I tend to have bad luck with harddrives so I have an offsite backup of the content(in addition to multiple onsite backups)?

    Personally, I like the idea of watermarking music. It doesn't prevent anything, but it stops people that legally buy music from casual copying and it makes it easy to id
  • In quotes, for a reason.

    In my jurisdiction, we pay a media tariff. As a benefit we have a personal copying priviledge.

    Now, it would have been "illegal" to copy music for friends before the personal copying provision was put into place. Currently, this provision does not extend to videos or audio books (for two examples).

    Let's say that a personal copying provision is put into place for videos. How does DRM get retracted now that it is legal to copy? At that point, it is still either not possible or very diff
  • DRM is the automatic enforcement of copyright (and then some).

    Therefore DRM is also intrinsically distasteful.

    QED.
  • Why does this entire thread sound like someone trying to ask the right question? It sounds like "what would we need to say to make it sound like you were in favour of DRM so we could use this in a position paper?"

    As long as I can buy my CD, NOT have any fscking software installed on a PC I play it from (yes, I mean you Sony), play it in my stereo and my car, and rip it to whatever format I like to use the tracks how I like, I will buy the product. If your DRM impedes any of those things, then I'm not inte
  • In this hypothetical case...

    Can I make backups? (And as others have asked, how can it tell my intent?)
    Is it dependent on some piece of hardware that might break, or is proprietary?
    If the company owning it disappears, am I SOL?
  • Its more complex than everyone makes it seem. DRM is annoying and is getting more so (my itunes purchase won't play in my car cd mp3 player without jumping through hoops). DVDs are adding more copy protections etc. Nothing more annoying than having to jump through more hoops to get the stuff you paid good money for to play on the device of your choosing.

    However the alternative is
    http://www.plocp.com/images/vista_MG_3800.jpg [plocp.com]

    and bootlegs are everywhere. Maybe if they didn't charge close to 20$(in Mexico) a
  • "If digital media was available for sale at a reasonable price, but subject to a DRM scheme that allowed full legitimate usage (format shifting, time shifting, playback on different devices, etc.) and only blocked illicit usage (illegal copying), would you support the usage of such a DRM scheme?

    Absolutely.

    The problem is, such a DRM system is impossible.

    Why? Because in many cases, the question of Fair Use depends as much on the intent of the copying as on the nature of the copying itself. How can the DRM system determine whether the clip I'm exctracting from a movie is going to be used for non-commercial, educational use, or if I'm going to combine it with a bunch of other extracted clips to make a complete DRM-free copy of the movie which I'll proceed to sell on the black market?

    Unless t

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:20PM (#17579864)
    > "If digital media was available for sale at a reasonable price, but subject to a DRM scheme that allowed full legitimate usage (format shifting, time shifting, playback on different devices, etc.) and only blocked illicit usage (illegal copying), would you support the usage of such a DRM scheme? Especially if it meant a wealth of readily available compatible devices? In other words, if you object to DRM schemes, is your objection based on principled or practical concerns?"

    This is a classic example of begging the question [wikipedia.org].

    The ability to shift formats, shift time, play back on different devices, "etc", is indistinguishable from "illegal copying". The question is based upon the incorrect premise that the two things are distinguishable.

    Consequently, my objection to DRM is based on both philosophical and practical terms.

    I object on philosophical grounds because there exists no such device.

    I object on practical grounds because any device that purports to "allow full legitimate usage but ... block illicit usage" is a device that does not allow full legitimate usage.

    The root of your problem is the notion of "legitimate" and "illegitimate" versus "copying", "playback", and so on. The former terms are terms of law; they are defined by lawyers and enforced by men with guns. The latter terms are descriptions of functionality; they are defined by the laws of physics and mathematics, which are enforced by the universe itself.

  • DRM is intrinsically time-limited. Eventually one of three things will happen:

    • The copyright on the content will expire.
    • Copyright law will change.
    • The authentication service will shut down.

    A "perfect" DRM will have to adjust to changes in copyright status, which means it'll have to be able to do things like pick up the fact that a work has entered the public domain, or the copyright has been extended. That means it has to contact some authentication service. But we've seen from the DIVX fiasco that

  • by Pojut (1027544) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:22PM (#17579908) Homepage
    I liken DRM to the locks on my house: they keep the honest man honest.

    If someone wants to "steal" music, movies, tv shows, whatever, they will. No amount of copy protection is going to stop them.

    Tapes, CD's, DVD's, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, XP Authentication, Serial Numbers...doesn't matter. If someone wants to get something for nothing, they will find a way regardless of how much time, effort, or money you put into trying to stop them.

    However, the honest man who won't do any of these things...well, what does it matter if his stuff is "locked"? I mean, after all...if someone isn't going to enter my house uninvited, then the locks on my doors and windows are meaningless.

    Yes, people change, and yes everyone who "steals' media starts somewhere...but still, you get my point. The only thing DRM (and things like it) does is inflate the cost of things for people that plan on legally purchasing it anyway. The people that plan on not obtaining it legally...well, you can finish that sentance.

    Galactic Civilization II is a PERFECT example. Shipped with ZERO protection on it, it still managed to sell many thousands of copies...if you perused their forums around the time of it's released, many cited the reason they bought it was SOLEY because it shipped with no copy protection, and they support that idea.

    Music corporations (and movie studios, for that matter) will NEVER return to the days where they had total control over how people obtained their media and what they do with it. The honest people will do the exact same thing they did years ago, and the non-honest people will always find a way around it. A waste of time, money, and effort.
  • I wouldn't care if everything used DRM if it required zero extra time, no resources, allowed for fair use, and was fully compatible. Being a software developer I know this is almost impossible though. Unless you fully control the entire system and software (ie XBOX 360, iTunes and iPod) it is near impossible to implement, this is why DRM is unacceptable in most cases. Even if you have a closed system DRM is still very hard (ie XBOX 1, PS3).
  • operating under the assumption that drm is a tool for enforcing copyright, then drm should be flaunted, destroyed, ignored. on the principle that there is a better way

    in china, copyright is openly flaunted. enoforcement, if it is any, seems laughably inadequate

    musicians make money via advertisements or concert tickets only

    no middle man at all

    what crazy world is this?

    whatever you call it, it's absolutely superior to the stifling copyright system in the west

    the copyright system in the west has overreached. it was intended to foster innovation by rewarding content creators. that's the original point

    however, in the west it is now just a tool for rewarding the middleman. he stiffs the content creator

    content creators deserve financial reward: concerts and endorsements. that's their financial reward. it's not jay-z millions. but that's not the point: content creators deserve a compfortable life. but they don't deserve billions. their grandchildren don't deserve money every time someone plays happy birthday. that's patently insane (pardon the pun). and yet it is the law of land in the west. ridiculous

    for content creators, i thought the point was love of music? musicians create music only to make money? i don't want to listen to any musician who does that, do you? so the creator deserves cushy upper middle class rewards from endorsements and concerts. what's wrong with that life? you still have the fame, the adoring chicks. just not jay-z millions. oh well, the golden age is over

    and middlemen deserve absolutely nothing. in the age of vinyl/ cds, they controlled the means of distribution, so they got something, a lot, no matter what they actually deserved. but in the age of the internet, they've been made obsolete. so they should die

    and they are dying. but like any dumb dinosaur, it doesn't realize it is dying, it's a lot of struggling surging animal flesh that takes out bystanders, and it will go out fighting. fine. just avoid the thrashing tail of the dying beast, the day will come when it thrashes no more. and soon

    and it has no absolutely no meaning what laws are passed or what drm is in place. the internet was designed to route around damage due to nuclear blast. western culture, those who want music, it's poor, motivated, intelligent youth, they will find away to route around the "damage" to the internet that is drm

    make all the laws you want. common sense will prevail. just like china has to honor ridiculous western notions of ridiculously long and stifling copyright for economic reasons. in the halls of beijing, they pay the bullshit lip service. but on the streets of hong kong, common sense prevails
  • Principled and practical concerns are as one when it comes to free speech. The technology is at the point that any DRM requires all kinds of supporting laws that stop people from using art (music, video, books, etc) in creative and natural ways. Sampling and mashups might be considered "illegal" as is sharing an e-book in the same way you'd share a paper book (except on a larger, easier, and simultaneous scale). Who knows what I might want to do with a recording? Add it to the film I'm making? Overdub my ow
  • I believe that for DRM to "work" (on all so many levels), then the key will be to implement a metafor of a physical object.
    Let's imagine that there is a virtual world parallel to ours, in which these digital objects (DRM'ed files) live, and that your PC and your portable media players are only interfaces into that world.
    If you own a record in the real world, then you can play it, skip tracks, move it, sell it, lend it to your friends etc..
    Similiarly, if you own a record in the virtual world, then you should
  • by direpath (513554) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:27PM (#17580036)
    I purchased a few CDs online a year or so back. I stopped because there just wasn't anything more that interested me at the time. I then purchased a new PC. I decided to leave my old PC as a MP3 store for myself. I loaded up Winamp and dumped the entire contents of my old PC into the playlist. Lo and behold, I got DRM warnings on all of my purchased tracks. Even though I did not copy the music to my new computer (though I had thought about doing so and clearing off my old PC for a rebuild), I was restricted. So I cannot copy to another PC, I cannot listen to on another PC. Fortunately, the tracks worked in my Dell Pocket DJ I had at the time.

    I understand the why behind these tracks not working on a logical level, but it certainly left a bad taste in my mouth. I have not bought any music online since. I have bought a small amount of CDs and ripped them to my computer. I find that the industry is trying to fill every hole that their income can leak out of and in the end they are just not impressing the consumer.

    Another fine example of their efforts causing more grief to the paying consumer is this:

    My friend had purchased the latest Nickelback CD. He does the same as I would, rips it to his computer and adds it to his playlist. The CD would not rip. It would not even play on his laptop. Apparently, only some CD players would play this disc as it was formatted. So now he is limited in how he can enjoy the media. Needless to say, the CD hit the trash and as a result the consumer and the artist lose. He won't buy anymore Nickelback CDs because he as a consumer remembers the artist, not the record label.

    DRM was a good idea, but it was implemented horribly wrong. The consumer suffers with annoying popups and warnings and flat-out denials, while the guys who the RIAA wants to nail work around it. The RIAA and the labels are doing a damn fine job of taking their own profits away from themselves...between pushing away consumers via DRM and their rampant lawsuits, I'm wondering if the jokes of the recording industry moving towards lawsuits as a primary source of income aren't just coming true.
  • by paladinwannabe2 (889776) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:31PM (#17580108)
    I've yet to see a DRM scheme that didn't interfere with legal uses and was remotely effective. If we invented a DRM scheme that only stopped illegal use without any negative side effects, then I would definitely support it. I would also support building a perpetual motion machine for everyone to fufill all our energy needs.
  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu@NosPam.gmail.com> on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:39PM (#17580280) Journal

    There is nothing I find acceptable about DRM:

    • assumption of intent: while the proprietors of DRM insist this is about protecting intellectual property, that's simply a canard to hide behind for what they really want, control. Meanwhile, it's clear their "DRM" is an assumption I am trying to rip them off (I'm not).
    • portability: their notion of control proscribes what should be normal fair use. Imagine the old days not being able to take your vinyl records to a friends house to listen because they wouldn't play on other people's machines. That really is insane. The only reason they are trying to restrict to that level today (and they are) is because they can.
    • convenience: there are so many reasons things can go wrong. In today's and the future's DRM world if it goes as far as it seems it may, you risk all kinds of outages, from the momentary inconvenience of grabbing the wrong player (unauthorized), the the catastrophic (an entire collection wiped out because of a lost key).
    • quality: I'm not convinced they can layer DRM into digital art ad nauseum without degradation and corruption, no matter how long and hard they try to convince me they can.
    • trust: similar to "assumption of intent"... after I have my purchased (ummm, sorry, "licensed") digital art in my digits I resent the implication I won't and can't handle the notion of fair use appropriately. Further, I resent their blanket inference we as citizens are somehow that sleazy. The average user doesn't care about cheating and stealing, but DRM finally gives them at least a reason to consider it.
    • ...

    No, I can't say as I find DRM something acceptable at any implementation or level. In its most innocent and benign form it's just irritating noise, in it's most insidious manifestation (and they're going there if they can), it's rage-inducing.

  • by bill_kress (99356) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:40PM (#17580308)
    I would need to know for sure that I could place the song on any player now or ever to be created.
    I would need to know that I could transfer it to any media that will ever be created.
    I would need to know it would never cause degradation or loss of content.
    No transfer or change of use should require external access for permission.

    If I drive in a friends car, I should be able to bring the song on a USB stick and play it on his player. ...or a CD, or any other technology his car's player accepts.

    I must be able to transfer ownership to someone else.

    I'd expect (although it could be argued against) to be able to share the song with my wife and children.

    Finally, since they have a record of my ownership in order to enable the DRM rights, I'd absolutely expect replacement/reissue any time I wanted it.

    Then DRM will be acceptable.

    The problem is, DRM is absolutely incapable of supporting many of these uses.

    So no, I don't have anything against DRM itself, but it is absolutely, inherently counter to the needs of the public.
  • Silly Question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Steve525 (236741) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:43PM (#17580358)
    As others have pointed out, this is a silly question. There could never be such scheme, since the boundaries between legal and illegal use are so fuzzy, and may depend on the intent of the user. What you are really trying to ask is, "Is this fair-use thing just a smoke screen, and is the real reason we all object to DRM is that it prevents you from committing obvious copyright violations?"

    I suspect there's some truth to this. I'm sure plenty of people here download music/movies etc. that they don't really have the right to. I personally wouldn't care so much if I couldn't do this. (Although I won't claim that I haven't). However I do like being able to trade and copy CDs from friends. This isn't really legal either, and DRM such as you described would put a stop to this, too.

    In it's current form, though, DRM makes it harder for me to do things I should legally be able to do.

    One obvious example: iPods play music. iTunes software makes it really easy to tranfer the music from shiny disks I buy onto the iPod. iPods also play videos. However, there is no legal software that I'm aware of (and iTunes certainly doesn't) that allows me to transfer my movies from shiny disks I buy onto the iPod. This is solely due to the DRM on DVDs.

    I think illegal trading has served a valuable pupose: I wonder if without illegal trading, we'd have iTunes today. Without any compitition, it would probably be in the music companies best interest to keep forcing us to buy music as complete CD's.
  • by AnalogDiehard (199128) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:45PM (#17580406)
    When I witness a DVD sending a command to my player to ignore the skip/FF buttons during ads and FBI warnings, that is a foreboding omen of things to come from DRM.

    That is very frustrating and points to a practical reason why I oppose DRM totally.

  • Flawed Premise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spoonboy42 (146048) on Friday January 12, 2007 @04:53PM (#17580572)
    A DRM scheme which allows full legitimate usage is no longer a DRM scheme. DRM can only regulate technical actions, but whether or not an action is legitimate depends on human factors. If a DRM scheme allows me to change formats and move content to any device I want, then I should be able to view content on Linux, re-encode to XViD/Ogg Vorbis, put the files up on my home server, and stream them to the PCs around my apartment. I should also be able to ssh in from work or school and pull down a few songs to listen to at my desk. All of this is legal fair use, because I paid for the content in the first place. If DRM doesn't restrict these actions, then I really don't see how it can hope to restrict doing the same re-encoding and sticking the files on some P2P network.

    DRM as it is today is like buying a car with a governor that keeps the speed locked below 20 miles per hour, so that no matter where you drive you'll never be speeding. It can get you around your neighborhood, but by not trusting the user, it prevents you from doing things that you really ought to be able to. If the governor were set to 70 miles per hour, I would still find it distasteful, because the system is still setting parameters on exactly what I'm able to do with it, and the parameters continue to stifle legitimate use (for example, I can drive as fast as I want on a private road).

    Basically, it boils down to this: either a DRM system must lock down uses which are perfectly legal, if rare, in order to stop piracy, or the system must be so weak as to be essentially nonexistent and allow everything (including piracy). Trying to design a system which lets you have your cake and eat it too, so to speak, is like trying to design bullets that only hurt the bad people.
  • DRM now and future (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BanjoBob (686644) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:00PM (#17584328) Homepage Journal
    DRM is plagued with problems that were never really thought out. The implementations in use today are to solve an immediate need. In most cases, they are failing badly.

    I work with some Indie record labels and none of them employ DRM except for what they sell on iTunes. Their CDs are all clean. They have recently come under fire for CMT videos not playing in Firefox, Opera, Netscape, etc. To counter this Microsoft PC only issue, they have now started posting the music videos on YouTube.com also. They had to as nearly 30% of their audience couldn't watch the videos.

    But, we come to an even bigger problem. Obsolesence. Labels get bought and sold. Media changes (cylinder - 78 - 45 - LP - EP - CD - SACD - Digital.....) So, it is quite likely that any mechanism employed today won't work in the future and, at the rate of technology evolution, that won't take too long. At some point, the music becomes unaccessible. You paid for it. You licensed it. But you can't listen to it.

    We also have copyright issues. Lets say in 50 years the copyright expires and the music becomes public domain. How to you remove the DRM? How does one make the music available to the general public once it is in the public domain? Under DMCA you can't - even if it is for legitimate use.

    Finally for historical and archive purposes one would need to keep the playback mechanisms current, licensed and capable for playing old DRM'd content. In 100 years if somebody wanted to do research and study 1990-2010 music of a particular genre, it would probably be much more difficult due to DRM'd media getting in the way. How do you play, restore and repackage the DRM's oldies?

    The DRM people haven't seriously looked at the cultural and social long-term impact of DRM. They don't really care as that doesn't bring revenue to their pockets but society does care but society doesn't have a voice or lobby power that RIAA/MPAA/BMI/ASCAP and the other Performance Rights Organizations (PROs) do.

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